Polyculture of silver barb, Puntius gonionotus (Bleeker), Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus (L.), and common carp, Cyprinus carpio L., in Vietnamese ricefields: feeding ecology and impact on rice and ricefield environment
Rice production, ricefield environment and the feeding ecology of fish were studied in an experiment conducted at a rice-fish station in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam. In total, six treatments (three replicates) were investigated: four different polyculture combinations of small sized silver barb, Puntius gonionotus (Bleeker, Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus (L.), and common carp, Cyprinus carpio L.; one treatment with pre-grown fingerlings; and a control treatment in which no fish were stocked. No insecticides or fungicides were utilized before or during the experiment. Frequent fertilization of the water and a low rice plant biomass during the early vegetative growth phase stimulated the development of phytoplankton and zooplankton. The total weed biomass was low (maximum = 5.3 g dry weight m(-2)) and not significantly (P < 0.05) different between the treatments, A major component of the silver barb diet consisted of rice plants and accessible grains. However, the introduction of silver barb only had a significant effect on the number of rice tillers in the ratoon crop and not on the paddy yield. The quantitative differences in the diets of tilapia and common carp were minimal: both species fed mostly on detritus. Ricefields without silver barb produced the highest paddy yield (3120 kg ha(-1)). The total yield of introduced fish increased after increasing the stocking density of silver barb from 319.9 to 494.1 kg ha(-1). The highest fish yield (541.8 kg ha(-1)) was obtained by stocking pre-grown fingerlings in the ricefields.